Some say that the Super Bowl is won in the offseason. It is a critical time for teams to bolster their rosters and improve the holes they had from the year before. The offseason is when a well-executed draft, a monumental trade, or a couple of key-free agent signings came take a team from constant duds to Super Bowl champs…just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This is our NFL Team Needs series. We will break down the top needs for each team in the league by division. Let’s examine the AFC North.
Pittsburgh Steelers – C, RB, LT, CB
For whatever reason, the Steelers are bringing back Ben Roethlisberger for one final year. With the glaring OL needs, it is an interesting move for an immobile QB who hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the 2008 season. A potential replacement? How about Kellen Mond in the third round? The real issue is that Pittsburgh has over 25 free agents and no money to spend. In fact they are $14 million over the salary cap now. I would love to throw out some names that they could sign or trades to make, but it will truly take the most talented of minds to figure out how to get the Steelers out of this hole while maintaining a talented roster.
Cincinnati Bengals – OT, G, CB, EDGE, Backup QB
The Bengals saw what happened last season when they didn’t give rookie Joe Burrow enough help on the offensive line. If they don’t want another Andrew Luck on their hands, they’d better figure it out quickly. Cincy has the fifth most money to spend in the league and guys like Joe Thuney and Brandon Scherff should be major targets. They could also target Penei Sewell in the draft if he is there or go with a weapon like Kyle Pitts. Cincy should spend and upgrade the defense heavily, solidifying the secondary and maybe even offering big cash to a guy like Shaq Barrett who can get to the quarterback.
Baltimore Ravens – EGGE, CB, WR, C
The Ravens are a Super Bowl caliber team but have come up short two straight years. The obvious need is wide receiver. Lamar Jackson needs help there for sure. This is one of the deepest wide receiver free agent classes ever and they could get an expensive guy like Allen Robinson or a few moderate priced guys like Corey Davis or Curtis Samuel. Next is the center position and a guy like David Andrews to protect Lamar would help. Finally, some big defensive guys could walk from Baltimore this season. If so, they’ll need to secure the secondary and get another pass rusher. The best-case scenario is that they re-sign Yannick Ngakoue.
Cleveland Browns – S, LB, WR, DE
Here’s to the “feel good” team of last season. It is fun that the Browns are a team we are talking about for a playoff spot again in 2021. This team showed they have some heart, and the offense was excellent. Now it is time to build a seriously legit defense. They have Myles Garrett as a foundation. With just over $29 million to spend, the Browns should get creative and sign guys like Justin Simmons to come play safety or make a serious run for JJ Watt to take over as an EDGE. I would expect Cleveland to be very defense heavy in the draft this season while maybe spending a third or fourth on a wide receiver in case Odell Beckham Jr. is on his way out.